Alaska buying Virgin America? Yes, it’s being widely reported that Alaska Airlines is closing in on a deal to do just that. I’ve long thought that there was some more room for consolidation at the smaller end of the airline industry, but I will admit that a marriage of these two airlines was not high on my wish list. JetBlue was the other reported suitor once Virgin America put itself up for sale, and frankly, I thought JetBlue would be the buyer. They still could be.

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Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines

JetBlue almost started as Virgin America, but that’s another blog post. Fleet mix, onboard product, and culture seemed to make make Virgin a more ideal fit for JetBlue. Alaska is a fine airline, but “edgy” is not an adjective that comes to mind when I think of them.

For sure, expanded operations in San Francisco and a handful of transcontinental routes would add something to Alaska’s portfolio. However, these don’t strike me as reasons to drop a rumored purchase price of $2 billion on an airline that just seems incompatible. I’m sure a squadron of MBAs have a few ideas on making it work, but color me skeptical at this point. Leaking details of the deal over the weekend could be a way to loosen up someone else’s wallet……like JetBlue.

-MJ, April 2, 2016